Monthly Archives: August 2013

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Public speaking is an optional, but also a highly recommended, tactic in a strong public relations program.   Every association in town, every club, church group, every business class or travel class at your local community college, enjoys having guest speakers. A tried and true tactic for a public relations strategy is to offer your expertise to a group in the form of a speaking engagement. When an organization provides you with a platform as a speaker, your credibility as a local expert is greatly enhanced.  You stand out from the crowd of other travel consultants by virtue of your very appearance in front of the room.  Moreover, opportunities to speak tend to come in successive waves – speaking at one function often leads to other speaking engagements. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Marketing may seem terribly complicated, and it can be at times, especially with all the online options available. But when it comes down to it, marketing is a simple science–the study of human psychology.

I’ve been through times in my business where I wish I could make the phone ring or inbox ding (and more recently, cell phone ping with a new text message). When it comes to making that happen, I learned a while ago from marketing guru Dan Kennedy, that you must lead a client though five steps before they’ll reach out to you and ask for your help.

Most small businesses miss this. Many skip to step two and some even skip to step three. When a client doesn’t understand your offer, you get no action. But when you know these steps, it makes getting the phone ringing a lot easier. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

You can be a “thought leader” in your community.  The public has a keen interest in all things related to travel. If you seek them out, you are likely to find many opportunities to interact with hundreds, perhaps thousands of consumers in your community through an intelligent public relations campaign. This week, we are going to investigate some of the easily accessible aspects of public relations for travel agents.

Publishers and editors of magazines, newspapers and newsletters in your community need your assistance. Each day, or week or month, these hard working souls have to fill their periodicals with timely, interesting content.  Read the rest of this entry »

My last article discussed how social media had taken over my life. I said, “I need a break. It seems like everywhere I turn people are talking about it. I came across a few articles just in the last few days about prioritizing your life into what matters the most. A blogger even suggested a social media break in order to reconnect with those that really matter to us, like family and friends—remember them?” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

A good public relations campaign is a multi-effort program. A single press release, public speaking engagement or event is only the most visible part of the campaign’s entirety. Weaving together the various elements in a campaign with exactly the right timing is the key to making a campaign really work to its maximum potential.

Every campaign should start with a marketing plan directed at just the immediate effort. The marketing plan should lay out each component of the effort: the message, the promotion, the event, the presentation, the follow up. Naturally, the more elaborate the campaign, the more important the planning should be. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Last Thursday night as I was in a music club listening to Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, I was the proud recipient of two panicked phone calls. The first was from a client in Northern Virginia who was frantic because she just realized that the passport she thought was valid, no longer was. The second was from a client in New York who had a similar revelation with her passport. Oh, and the group trip they were booked on was departing the next day! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – August 9, 2013

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Not all teamwork happens in an office. Many travel agents work in environments that have been pared down to a small percentage of the original size. Even more agents work alone, out of a home office. There is often no one to turn to when advice is needed, for backup or in an emergency. However, the passion for travel that motivates travel agents is all the energy required to form quick and fast friendships across town or across country. Peer-to-peer relationships are important for the vitality and professionalism of travel agents, and there are many ways for a travel professional to seek out like-minded colleagues. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

As we make our way through summer, many of us are already looking to prolong the blue skies and sunshine by planning to head south for the winter to the Caribbean. For the Winter 2013/14 season, there are lots of choices for those looking to get away to the sun and sand. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Teamwork requires respect. There are times, however, when a co-worker’s attitude makes teamwork difficult at best and often impossible. A problem staffer can disrupt an entire office setting. Coping with a difficult co-worker is a real skill and one that is essential for the well-being of an organization in general and yourself in particular. The fact of the matter is that few offices have 100% retention – every organization goes through several employees to find a good team player. It is the exceptional team players that travel agencies want to retain, and there is strong motivation to rotate the difficult staffers out of the office as efficiently as possible with minimum disruption to the whole. But while the difficult personality is on staff, how to cope? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

GT Tours Inc., The Latin American Specialists

Distinctive journeys to create a truly memorable travel experience or adventure….

G.T. Tours is your partner in travel! For the last 30 years our marketing and sales staff has specialized in designing and operating innovative and unique nature, adventure and cultural oriented travel experiences for individual clients, families or small groups to Central and South America. We take pride in tailor-making trips to suit the tastes and interests of our clients and to create a truly memorable holiday or adventure. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Small service businesses are almost always initially founded on a personality. At the core of the business plan is the personality of the owner – driven by whatever demons motivate them,  they start a company, move it forward and upward by the sheer force of their determination. And it works, for a while. Before long, however, most business owners realize the real meaning of the word “company.” Seldom is a person truly in business by themselves. As the company grows, employees (or family) begin to take on as much of the labor overhead as the owner will delegate. In fact, successful growth is often directly dependent on exactly how willing the head of the organization is to turn over important decisions and operations to capable employees.

Companies that market themselves well almost always have discovered the secret to employee empowerment and teamwork. If your brand is really the total sum of people’s perceptions about your company,  isn’t it logical that one of the chief conduits of your brand message is your employees? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Focus on the do

Can you name a nine-letter word that identifies the reason most companies and individuals fail to meet their full potential?

E-X-E-C-U-T-I-O-N

OK, it was a trick question. More realistically, it is a lack of execution.

According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary “execute” is defined as: [to carry out; perform; do.]

The issue is not a lack of knowledge. It is a shortage of “do.” Try this out, for the next seven days focus on the “do”—the concept of execution. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Teamwork for Travel Agents – Hidden Talents

The chances are very good if you work with more than two office staffers your co-workers have hidden talents about which you know nothing. Mining your staff to discover unrecognized assets is one of the most interesting and potentially rewarding exercises any manager can undertake. Many staff members have secret strengths that, properly applied, can be extremely valuable to a company. Your best corporate agent might also be a terrific public speaker. Your cruise specialist might be a real social magnet, with dozens of community contacts. Your receptionist might be an exceptional writer. That new agent you just hired right out of college might know more about social media than most writers of marketing columns. Read the rest of this entry »

I have always considered myself a lifelong learner – ready to take in a seminar or tune into a webinar if I think it will be useful for my business. Lately due to the social media craze it seems like a lot of programs are popping up discussing “finding your passion” and “niche marketing.” What I have noticed is that many agents I interact with in these situations confuse “finding your niche/passion” with the logical decision of which subcategory of travel will reap the most monetary return on their investment. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make money – I think choosing a niche based on that actually misses the point. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Teamwork for Travel Agents – Staff Meetings

The foundation of teamwork is trust. In any office setting, pulling a group of individuals into a working, well functioning unit is far from simple. Although humans are social animals and naturally gravitate to working together, we are also wary of our territory and cautious of our position. To obtain the objective of getting employees to confidently relax into the work setting the environment must encompass trust in the organization and in the other team members, including those in upper management. In an atmosphere of trust, employee retention and motivation are easier to achieve.  A happy and properly motivated staff will naturally contribute discretionary effort to their work out of a sense of pride at contributing to the greater good. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Last week, I penned an article on a new organization that was out to be the leading advocacy organization for travel agents. Having never heard of the organization, and having seen the demise of many, I was skeptical and asked if we indeed needed yet another organization. In particular, I questioned if additional organizations only led to greater confusion for the consumer.

Shortly after publication, I learned that Tom and Joanie Ogg were the driving forces behind the effort. The Oggs have been embedded (best term) in the travel industry for 40 years. From the founding of NACTA to authoring numerous books for the home based agent to truly leading the home based market through the darkness when it was in its infancy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – August 2, 2013

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Let’s don’t forget one other important ingredient for customer loyalty. Our study this week indicates customer loyalty develops out of a great service or product and the relationship initiated by the business. The customer who is loyal has an emotional bond with the business. The loyal customer works with the business, giving the travel professional the opportunity to evaluate other offers and opportunities on behalf of the client.

But just as it takes two to tango, it takes two parties to have a relationship, and not every individual will be a loyal customer. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

This weekend, I was working on some travel projects and getting documents together for clients leaving in a few weeks. I took a breather and decided to go into a forum I frequent, Travel Agency Best Practices. There was an interesting thread about a client who insisted on doing their own air arrangements while the agent handled the land arrangements. Throughout the process, the agent had confirmed and re-confirmed the dates and the client was adamant that the dates were indeed correct.  Well, you guessed it. The client did not realize the departing flight arrived the following day and they lost a day of travel. And, I will give you one guess who the client wanted to blame!  I chimed in and said that in those instances, I insist that the client provide us a copy of the airline or agency issued itinerary for verification.  Others replied and the chatter went back and forth for a while. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

If you are in your fifties or beyond, no one could blame you for thinking that your best summers are behind you. That’s what I thought — until this summer.

At age 55, I am having what just may be the best summer of my life. It did not come easy. I spent hours/days planning how I would spend the summer — and all so far has gone as planned.

Having gone through the planning stages myself, I thought I would share my experiences to help you plan your best summer vacation. What follows are a few tips that I hope will inform and inspire you to formulate a summer of travel as rewarding as mine has been. Read the rest of this entry »